BY KEN LITTLE
A man who shot and killed his neighbor last year unexpectedly entered a guilty plea Friday to second-degree murder in Greene County Criminal Court.
Michael Ray Dykes, 37, of Thornwood Drive, was initially charged with first-degree murder in connection with the fatal shooting of 62-year-old Orville D. Henry.
Dykes was sentenced by Judge John F. Dugger Jr. to 30 years in prison, to be served at 100 percent, court officials said.
Henry's body was discovered the morning of Feb. 10, 2012, in his mobile home at 960 Gass Memorial Road. Dykes was taken into custody the next day.
Dykes' indictment states that he "premeditatively and intentionally" killed Henry "by shooting him in the head and chest with a handgun."
The March 2013 indictment also states that Dykes killed Henry in a robbery attempt and in an attempt "to perpetrate a theft."
Before Dykes entered the guilty plea, the charge was amended from first-degree murder to second-degree murder, court officials said.
Had Dykes gone to trial next year and been convicted of first-degree murder, he could have been sentenced to life in prison.
Prosecutors Ritchie Collins and Cecil Mills Jr. were in court when Dykes entered the guilty plea, as was his lawyer, William Louis Ricker.
Dykes was in court for motions in his case when he decided to enter the guilty plea to second-degree murder, court officials said.
CO-WORKER FINDS BODY
Henry operated a home-remodeling business. A co-worker found his body inside the mobile home and called 911.
"Upon arrival, deputies determined that Orville D. Henry had been shot in the head and chest and he was dead," a report by sheriff's Detective Lt. Vincent Tweed said.
A pistol was used in the crime, and Henry's cellphone was stolen, the report said.
During an interview with Dykes after he was taken into custody, he gave an "incriminating statement of facts that the offender would know," the report said.
The report said Dykes told investigators, "I shot him ... I shot him in the head and right here."
A firearm "believed to be the weapon used to kill Orville D. Henry," and Henry's cellphone, were recovered on Feb. 12, 2012, from the Nolichucky River.
The gun and the cellphone were found in about 13 feet of water near Kinser Bridge on Erwin Highway (Tenn. Rt. 107), Sheriff Steve Burns said after Dykes was taken into custody.
Henry and Dykes knew each other, but only for a short period of time, Burns said after Dykes' arrest.
"The victim had just moved there, and Dykes had just recently started staying at that residence next to [Henry]," he said. "They had just recently been acquainted and not that much at all."